Listen to this track by Godfather of Grunge Neil Young playing with the now-venerable equine-monikered rock institution Crazy Horse. It’s “Cinnamon Girl”, a single as taken from Young’s second record bearing his name; Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, released in the spring of 1969 .
The song itself has appeared in many forms over the years since it was released, including on the essential compilation album Decade, released seven years after it appeared on Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. By now of course, the song is a concert staple and a rock standard that serves as a touchpoint for many bands across the rock spectrum even now in the 21st Century.
It’s almost absurd to imagine that this song hasn’t always been around, so important is it to the way that rock music would develop in the ensuing decades. But, despite its standing in the annals of rock music history, it had some pretty humble, yet strangely magical origins. Read more
The Christmas season is upon us, and just in time for that music geek in your life, a whole batch of rock biographies have recently hit the market. In the wake of Keith Richards’s staggeringly popular (and therefore best-selling) biography, Life, come a number of tomes from the elder statespersons of rock ‘n’roll myth. Neil Young, Rod Stewart, and Pete Townshend have been the highest profile autobiographers recently, and of the same vintage and venerability as Keef. But, Stones sax player Bobby Keys, bass-supremo Jerry Scheff (Elvis, Bob Dylan, The Doors, nearly everyone …), and Greg Allman, among others, all had books to flog this year.
Whatever music and musicians you’re into, the market is ripe for writers and readers alike.
But, what is it that drives the guitar-smashing, microphone-humping rock god into the study, hunched over his or her laptop (or ghostwriter) in a bid to catalog a life of creativity, success, betrayals, and excess? And further, what is it that drives us music obsessives to absorb these stories so readily, with the fervour of a religious acolyte, even if we’ve known many of the episodes by rote through various means even before they appeared between the pages of the latest hardcover?
Cultural critic, writer, novelist, and voracious reader in residence Geoff Moore is here to peruse the texts, and discover not only who wrote the Book of Love, but why in fact we still want to read it…
Listen to this track by Once-And-Future-Boss and game-changing singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen. It’s “It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City”, a tale of machismo, morality, and a retelling of the hero’s quest. The song serves as the closing track to Springsteen’s first album, 1973’s Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, released on January 5 of that year.
This song was an early composition of Springsteen’s, relatively speaking. He’d done time fronting a number of New Jersey-based bands from the mid-to- late-60s, including The Castiles, Earth, Steel Mill, and Dr. Zoom & The Sonic Boom (featuring Steve Van Zandt and Southside Johnny), plus a number of related groups in addition to his sideline as a solo artist.
All the while, he’d put in considerable effort in honing his craft as a singer-songwriter, particularly as a lyricist, concurrently developing his established skills as a guitar player and front man of rock and R&B-oriented bands around town. The balance he’d look to strike would be with his abilities to craft songs to be easily interpreted in a solo setting, but with enough musical juice to be applied to a larger ensemble, too. This is a direction he’d been moving in intermittently even before he got his record deal.
It was this song included among a others that made the impact he needed to get there. And it would be some important people who would first hear the song that would get Springsteen’s burgeoning career into motion. Read more